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By Tom Sloper
April 4, 2010

Column #445

American Mah Jongg (2010 NMJL card). The National League's new 2010 card keeps several hands from last year's card, eliminates a few, and makes some expected changes (like the usual reorganization of pairs in the first Consec. and 13579 hands). The biggest change from the 2009 card is the increased use of flowers and dragons in Consecutive Runs, the cornerstone family in the card, and the increased use of flowers in Winds - Dragons. Like Numbers is back, Elevens are gone - balance of opposites.

Defense is one of the hardest things to deal with when there's a new card. So let's look at some two-exposure problems. For each of the following, what is the player doing, and what should you do?

1. Of course you think 369, but no 369 hand matches this, so look to Consec. And sure enough, the perennial Consec. #2 is what she's doing. 4C and 5D are hot.

2. The key here is the dragon pung. There are just five dragon pung hands on the 2010 card. That's more than usual (I can remember a year when there were no exposable dragon pungs), but you don't have to do a lot of searching. This player, with her sixes, could be doing any of three different hands: Like Numbers #2, Consec. #3, or 369 #1. To eliminate Like Numbers, see if the other dragons and sixes are dead. See if you can determine the status of 3B, 9B, 5C, 7C, 5D, 7D for more clues.

3. The key here is the flower kong. That narrows the possibilities down to ten hands right away, then consider which ones might also use four twos. That leaves you with three: 2010 #1, Like Numbers #1, and Consec. #4. To eliminate 2010, check on the status of soaps. To eliminate Like Numbers, check on twos. To eliminate Consec., check on reds. In the absence of clues, the hot tiles are soap, 1C, 3C, 2D, 2B, R.

4. Two possibilities: 2468 #2 and Consec. #2. Hot: 2D, 4B, 8C, 5D, 8B. If 2D or 4B are dead, so's 2468.

5. Could be 2010 #3, Like Numbers #2, or Consec. #3. Hot: F, 1D, 0, R, G, 2C, 2B, 1B, 3B, 1C, 3C.

6. Could be 13579 #2, Consec. #2, or Consec. #5. The hot tiles are clear: 5B, 7C, 6B, 8C, 8D, F.

7. She can't make 2010 #1, because she can't make the 10. You're free to forget that one and assume she's making 2468 #3. 8D and F are hot.

A tip of the hat to sharp-eyed readers Georgianna T. Klein and Wendy French for spotting oopsies, now fixed!

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Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book in existence about the American game. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND get the official rulebook from the NMJL (see FAQ 3). Linda Fisher's website is the only website that describes American rules:

© 2010 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.